A Promised Arrival

IMG_1521It came! I’m a couple of weeks late in letting you know – and I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath, but my parcel finally arrived on the 13th of December. In the end it was perfect timing because I got to celebrate the arrival with my friend who was visiting from England, and we were able to decorate my Christmas tree together. 🙂

 

In the midst of the excitement of my friend and the stuff from my family/friends coming at the same time, I went to church that Sunday and heard a very fitting sermon. The speaker was talking about Simeon and Anna who met Mary, Joseph and the infant Messiah at the temple in Jerusalem on the eighth day after His birth. Both of these people rejoiced that the One they were waiting for had come after the many years of waiting for this promised arrival.

I have seldom heard this part of the story talked about. We talk about the visits of the shepherds and the magi to worship this extraordinary baby, but rarely do we focus on these two who encountered the Son of God at the temple.

Anna was at the temple because she had served there during the decades since her husband had died. According to Luke 2:37 she never left the temple. What devotion! I’m glad God gave her the opportunity to see the babe that would be the redemption of Jerusalem.

Simeon’s story is the one that struck me though. He wasn’t always at the temple. He was lead there by the Spirit of God that day. He believed God’s promise that he would live until he had seen the Christ, and he trusted the Holy Spirit’s prompting that he should go to the temple.

I don’t know if he knew why he needed to go, or if he just had an irresistible urge to go and worship at the temple that day. Imagine for an instant what might have happened if his arthritis was acting up and he just didn’t feel like following through on that particular urging from the Spirit that morning. Would he have missed out on the promise of God? If he hadn’t listened to the prompting and acted on it, we might not know his name or that he even existed. His story might have ended very differently, and I’m sure he was grateful that is not the case.

This man is a perfect picture of the anticipatory and active waiting that I wrote about last time. He knew the promises of God were trustworthy, and he acted on the promptings of the Holy Spirit that rested on him. He reminds me again of the faithfulness of God and His Word. He also reminds me that I must allow the promptings of the Spirit to move me into action.

Excuses are easy to come by, but who knows what opportunities might pass us by if we don’t allow the Spirit to move us.

I don’t say this because I think God gives us one chance and that’s it. You snooze, you lose forever… Thank God that isn’t His attitude!

However, Simeon’s story has made me very aware that God is not late in keeping His promises, and I must not be sluggish in answering His urging, whatever that may look like. Perhaps it looks like talking to someone on the street, getting out of the flat to work and worship in a different setting than normal, writing an encouraging note to a friend, or praying for a situation in the news.

As we finish out 2014, and look ahead to 2015 – pregnant with possibility, may the Spirit rest so fully on us that we don’t miss out on a single opportunity to see the salvation of God for ourselves, our neighbors and our world, and like Anna and Simeon, may we rejoice and proclaim His arrival!

Advertisements

Waiting

I am waiting – not so patiently, I must admit – for a parcel from my parents. It is full of wonderful things like jeans, pens, and Christmas decorations that I would love to put on my little tree. Each day I beg Jesus multiple times to bring my parcel in the mail that day. At the time when there is no way it could still arrive that day, I ask that tomorrow will be the day.

It occurred to me a couple of days ago, that I ask for the arrival of my parcel far more diligently and with more urgency than I request the things that God has promised.

A few weeks ago I read a devotional about the power of desperate prayers. The example given was the story of Hannah in the Old Testament. She was barren and petitioned God in her desperation to have a baby. Her husband assured her of his love, and urged her to be content with him.

The devotional pointed out that Hannah was willing to face her pain and longing, and not content to accept her condition as “the will of God” for her. Instead, she went to the temple and poured her heart out to God so desperately that she was mistaken for a drunk.

For those that don’t know the story, by the same time the following year Hannah was the mother of the boy who would grow to be the prophet Samuel. (This story can be found beginning in 1 Samuel chapter 1.)

As I read this short encouragement, I was convicted that I had become complacent in the name of contentment. God has promised me several things that I have yet to see fulfilled, and after years – or even decades in some cases – I have learned that I don’t like waiting.

It ‘s amazing how often we in the church are told to be content with God. I wrote previously about the danger of becoming so “content” that we don’t long for the Kingdom of God to come in fullness. I think it goes beyond that though. What I have called contentment recently is a half-hearted or even indifferent attitude toward believing for the promises of God. I had stopped asking. I might have still flippantly tossed a request for one thing or another into my conversations with God, but the requests lacked any expectancy or urgency.

As I await the delivery of ranch dressing mix and other goodies from home, I am taking steps to ensure I am ready. I make sure the door to the entryway is unlocked each morning so the postman can get in to leave the mail. I run downstairs to check whenever I hear the doorbell signaling that something has been left. I am expectant. My waiting involves action and anticipation of the arrival.

So, why is it that all too often, as I await the arrival of all that God has promised, I sit idly by and simply watch? Why don’t I anticipate the delivery of His gifts? What might I need to do to ensure that delivery? Is there a door to be opened, or another action I could take? And finally, why don’t I wake up every morning pleading that today would be the day, or go to bed each night wondering if tomorrow will be?

Are you in that “fun” place of waiting? If so, are you just sitting and staring out the window and expecting that the delivery will fall in your lap, or are you preparing for the arrival of whatever it is you’re waiting for? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.

More than ever before, I’m realizing that waiting is a verb – an action word, and for too long I have allowed no action to be associated with it. It’s time to change that in my life; it’s time to ask, seek, knock, and prepare, expecting that delivery could come any day and I don’t want to miss it!